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No Moves To Legalise Marijuana

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday shot down any notion that the Minnis administration is currently considering the decriminalisation of marijuana or legalisation of the drug for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Dr Sands, during a press conference at police headquarters, said that while the government will be “objective and open minded” on the issue, it does not think that “the Bahamas should lead the world in this particular exercise.”

Dr Sands’ comments came during a press conference at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre for the release of the Bahamas National Household Drug Prevalence Survey 2017, a survey focusing on drugs and at-risk youth ages 18-25.

The event was held in collaboration with the United States Embassy, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

According to the statistics, lifetime use prevalence for marijuana for males and females between 12-24 years were 18.7 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively; 22 per cent and 9.9 per cent for males and females respectively between the ages of 25-44 years, and 19.4 per cent and four per cent for males and females respectively between the ages 45-65 years.

Additionally, US Chargé d’Affaires Lisa Johnson said the results revealed young people in the Bahamas do not believe marijuana is a drug. Ms Johnson also said young people do not associate marijuana use, sales, or possession with violent crime or with addiction.

Dr Sands, during his remarks, noted many countries have liberalised marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. However, he said, such a decision, “however tempting as it might be,” should not be “adopted or embraced by the state without a dispassionate objective review of the evidence which accepts new evidence that has been rigorously validated while discarding dogma or tradition which has been discredited or disproved.”

“Every week my ministry is in receipt of requests to consider medical use of marijuana, or occasionally being asked to opine on the current judicial or law enforcement view of drug use,” he said. “Let me say that we are minded to be cautious, prudent and careful, (and) we are also minded to be objective and open minded. But we do not feel that the Bahamas should lead the world in this particular exercise.”

In 2013, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves asked CARICOM to discuss the medicinal and other uses of marijuana. At the time, Mr Gonsalves said it’s “high time” that CARICOM address the matter, regionally, in a “sensible, focused (and) non-hysterical manner.”

That same year, then Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez said the Bahamas is more conservative than many other countries in the region on the use of marijuana. Mr Gomez also said reducing the number of years for the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Bahamas would unclog the criminal justice system.

In February 2014, after Jamaica announced its intention to decriminalise marijuana for medical purposes, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said the former Christie administration would study the matter and was open to discussing the issue.

And last year, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney said he believes marijuana should be decriminalised, and also suggested that marijuana should be legalised for medicinal purposes.

However, Dr Sands said the country’s position on the issue should not be based upon international norms, but should instead be reflective of a sound, objective decision-making process and the potential impact it may have on society.

“Our National Drug Council finds itself in need of reinvigoration and repurposing, and we are doing exactly that,” he said. “Our intellectual honesty to examine and dissect the events, decisions and trends ought not to be based on intransigents, or stubbornness. But nor should we flow passively as unprincipled and uninformed passengers on the bus of international group think.

“Effective and appropriate public policy does not require universality, unanimity, nor absolute proof. It should, however, be based on truth or evidence, however uncomfortable, that has been validated and which is good for our people. It requires that we be open to dialogue, to new knowledge, and to strategies which effectively and positively impact our citizens and our communities.”

Survey

Meanwhile, the survey results showed that lifetime use prevalence for alcohol was 74 per cent (78 per cent males, 71 per cent females); 21 per cent (33 per cent males, 9 per cent females) for tobacco; one per cent (2 per cent males, 0.4 per cent females) for cocaine and 0.7 per cent (1 per cent males, 0.5 per cent females) for crack cocaine.

The beedy/bidi cigarette had a cumulative lifetime use prevalence of approximately five per cent amongst Bahamians between the ages of 12-65.

Lifetime use for inhalants, tranquilizers, stimulants and analgesics were all less than one per cent, according to the statistics. However, the survey summary noted the lifetime use prevalence of “emerging drugs” such as the leaf “grabba” was three per cent, e-cigarettes at two per cent, hookah pipes at two per cent and the alcoholic drink known as “lean” at two per cent.

Conclusively, alcohol, tobacco and marijuana were the more popular drugs. When compared to the last household drug prevalence survey in 1991, lifetime use of alcohol and marijuana remained the same while lifetime use of tobacco, cocaine and tranquilizers decreased.

“Drug monitoring, prevention and education efforts should be strengthened, especially for alcohol, marijuana and the relatively new drugs,” the survey’s summary said.

Data collection was done using multi-stage sampling techniques on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Andros, Eleuthera, Exuma and Abaco, according to the survey summary. Randomly chosen individuals within each selected household were interviewed by trained enumerators using a standardised CICAD questionnaire on computer tablets with Survey To Go software.

Only persons 12 to 65 years were eligible for the survey.

A total of 2,533 interviews were completed for the survey. Approximately half (52 per cent) were female with a median age of 36 years.

Comments

TalRussell 4 months ago

Comrades! Is it that the good doctor's voice gives music to he own ears. I'd suggest the doc is in need some that marijuana drug for medicinal brain clearing purposes- if he honestly thinks the Bahamaland would be 'leading the world' if it were to move ahead with legalisation of marijuana for medicinal use. I mean how behind is he on what has been happening for years in many of the world's spots when it comes to even simple possession and use of marijuana for any purpose-including being granted government licensing to setup shops to retail it? When the doc tells you he got's a firm grip on something - he doesn't.

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proudloudandfnm 4 months ago

Man just legslize it. The crime is all the people with criminal records becausr of this benign drug. Alcohol is way more deblitating and dsngerous than herb. Just legalize it...

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athlete12 4 months ago

Some of the stuff that comes out of these politicians mouth man.." leading the world" Where have yall been the past 5 years? Jamaica started with decriminalization, now they're expanding their medicinal use. Look where being conservative has gotten us...

For a government that has no plans on how the country is going to make money, is shying away from perhaps the easiest solution. Many tourist already believe it's legal here anyway. Take on the brand and be proud of it. We wont be shamed for it

Fact is some high students are going to try drugs not just marijuana, now is that a criminal problem or just a growing up problem?

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Naughtydread 4 months ago

With our economic outlook legalizing and taxing medicinal and recreational Marijuana would be a saving grace for the Bahamas. Although we know our friend Uncle Sam would probably not approve of this venture. All I can say is when the day recreational Marijuana sales becomes a reality your gonna have alot of "businessmen" ready to open doors and start growing.

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Greentea 4 months ago

Why not? Its legal in quite a few of those United States....

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Even though at least 70% of our population either smokes marijuana recreationally, religiously or medically ............ our country has criminal laws (that hinder young men) that lock them up for minute amounts of dope ................ Half of men in Fox Hill are probably there for dope offences

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athlete12 4 months ago

Someone is making money off of our young men being piled into fox hill. It would be good to see who supplies prison for food, clothes, equipment etc.

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TalRussell 4 months ago

Comrade Athlete12, have you heard prison's new License Plates Stamping production?

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TalRussell 4 months ago

Comrades! Here's a shocker. Dr. Duane needs go talk a few of the lawyers at the major red shirts law firms to get his update on a list the names major well known red shirts business people who have or are in the process of incorporating and forming partnerships in their companies to not only roll the dice to get a head start gamble sell Medical marijuana products but also set up Growing Houses - once the red cabinet decriminalise it before their mandate runs out in 2022. Some us think a partnership will be formed will be constructed a similar way Kelly Island's exclusivity port deal came about? You'd have be living under a rock to believe having missed out on the numbers BILLIONS Dollars - so far anyway. The red shirts Boys are not going let marijuana's BILLIONS dollars pass them by. Fool me once but not twice. The Tribune needs to go uncover who the directors are of these companies? { I didn't make this up }.

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sealice 4 months ago

As long as the BCC can't pull it's head out of it's ARS!!! the gov't of the Bahamas won't go near this issue - they need the church votes......

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DDK 4 months ago

Put it to a referendum with a proviso that indulging on the job would be grounds for dismissal and that driving a vehicle while under the influence would be considered an offense (THC breathalyzer should be out soon). Let The People decide.

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Sickened 4 months ago

This stance is upsetting and unexpected. Dr. Duane you need to resign and get out of the way of progress! Almost the entire east coast have or will legalize this in one form or another. It is only matter of time before we move in step in order to keep this crappy tourism market chugging along. Why take the chance of not passing the necessary laws NOW, 'cause if the FNM lose the next election the chance of any change is at least 10 years down the road. We will then be FAR too behind the rest of the world. Think Duane, Think!

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Why would tourists want to come here and get locked up for smoking a joint ...... when they are free to smoke in the US, Europe and Canada???? ....... smh

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baldbeardedbahamian 4 months ago

Am I the only one getting my posts taken down regularly? The site moderator seems to have a very peculiar set of criteria that she works from.

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baldbeardedbahamian 4 months ago

Maybe she don't like bald persons with beards?

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Did you piss off Rowena Bethel (from NIB)?????? ........... BOL

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SP 4 months ago

LOL....WAAAA...LOL

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TalRussell 4 months ago

Comrades! Has it occurred to you that PM Minnis done knew exactly the red shirts to have picked to become the first three casualties of his red shirts cabinet? Pretty damn smart way rid yourself of the three main known supporters of "Reheasa," the former MP for Long Island. You will recognise the three by the frequency they likes see their names and pictures on and in the media's coverage? [ Oh yes, there exists a list of the first three cabinet casualties targeted to come a crashing down from their crown ministerial positions }.

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Alex_Charles 4 months ago

legalizing it releases some strain on the judiciary and the prison system. I think it would save money and be a small help to the economy.

I expect nothing different from this administration. IF we want this legalized we'll have to march and force legislation.

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baldbeardedbahamian 4 months ago

Sheep runner, you got good sense of humour, I'll buy you a beer any day.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Roger dat ........... Big pool (billiards) tournament in Long Island this weekend ................. 4 Sands for $12.00

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baldbeardedbahamian 4 months ago

my passport run out and I can't get a next one so not allowed on the plane or the mail to deadman's cay either. sands at 50c sounds good though. I could afford to buy you 2 of them.

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stislez 4 months ago

Dese old politicians need to hurry die out so we could have some real change...........In case ya boi dont know, i used to make the weed oild(rick Simpson) for my mom before she passed of cancer. She ate regularly, (sometimes more than me). When cancer patients take chemo or radiation pills to(supposedly help cure or slow the process of cancer down), its causes multiple symptoms. My mom skin turned dry dry, sometimes she would tell me just covering up with a blanket use to hurt cause the hair on her legs and arms was so brittle. Well i used the tincture from the residue of the weed oil and told her to use a little with her moisturizing lotion. In about one day or less her skin was shinning and the hair on her legs and arms was soft again. Plus, people have this stigma about "gettin high", well my mom never smoked or drink a day in her life and she still was able to operate regularly(she only had a slight light headness but nothing to immobilize her). My mom had brain surgery and was taking less than a rice grain size amout of weed oil regularly. One time she when to doctors hospital(by this time she was getting worse because the cancer was spreading. She needed up 1mg of weed oil per day, along with a change of diet and full detox, but you know how old people go and it takes time to build up a tolerance for a non smoker to be able to handle a 1mg dose.....plus she was done at stage 4 when we found out)....anyway.....like i was saying, one time she was at doctors hospital because she was in so much pain from the cancer, we didnt know what to do(this before she took her first lil bit of the weed oil). Well she was there an the medication they gave her was not much help, she still got release about two days after still with the pain, just not as bad. When she came home i convinced her to take some......she took a lil raisen(i used to put half the size of a rice grain amount of weed oil in a raisen)....she went to sleep.......i went outside. She woke up screaming my name so i ran to her.......she dancing in the bed.....doing all type moves, mind you this woman could have hardly walk two days ago! Anyway.....its emotional talking about my mom....i miss her so much........But i hate it when people afraid of what they dont understand. This man dont know what me and my family been through with cancer and marijuana, nor does he know what we have learnt......it saddens me to know countless people will die for lack of knowledge(AND I KNOW THE BIBLE SAY DAT! lol)......There is THC and CBD that comes from marijuana, both can be used for medical purposes. If my options is SAVE A LIVE or GO TO JAIL because of marijuana..........guess what......i done been jail....its nothing to go back!

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EasternGate 4 months ago

Never used the stuff...don't know what it looks like...but I support it being legalized right now! It would certainly free up the RBPF to concentrate on REAL crime!. If I call the police at 1am to report a break-in, and some one a half mile away report a drug deal going down... who are the POLICE going after??

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SP 4 months ago

For GODS sake what the heck is the big flipping deal with legalizing marijuana?

How many people die annually from alcohol and tobacco use compared to marijuana use?

It's an actual WEED! Nobody will EVER control weed!

Ignore the so called "Christian counsel". This group of "Bahamian Taliban" also fought tooth and nail against Sunday shopping on Bay street!

GET WITH THE BLOODY PROGRAM & LEGALIZE IT ALREADY!

Sensible countries realized & taxed the legalization Marijuana.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis_by_country

The Bahamas claims to be interested in regional tourism dominance. But, has yet to demonstraight any common sense to date to achieve this gold!

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SP 4 months ago

This whole question about the positives far outweighing the negatives with legalizing marijuana is an absolute no brainer!

Decriminalization of marijuana will also allow the government to purge the massively overcrowded prison of small time, none violent drug offenders which will make room for these dangerous ankle bracelet animals out on bail wrecking havoc on law abiding citizens and committing any number of crimes daily.

They can "do it" and make immediate progress or "not do it" and fail, just like all former administrations.

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ARWallace 4 months ago

Decriminalize or legalize marijuana?

"First, there’s an important difference between legalization and decriminalization.

Often, activists garner support for a change in marijuana policy by talking in terms of decriminalization. For example, they suggest that no criminal penalties (jail, fines) should be imposed on an adult possessing a small amount of the drug.

But most of the time what people are actually voting on is the legalization of the drug, where marijuana is authorized, legally sanctioned, and “endorsed” by the state.

This move results in a commercial industry taking root in our communities. ..." -- Jim Daly, President of Focus On the Family

Play it forward. Decriminalization of marijuana would eventually lead to the legalization of the same. But read about some of the devastating effects of the drug's usage since it was legalized in Colorado a few years ago and ask yourself, "Would this be a good thing for Bahamians?" While you ponder that, I urge you to read the rest of Jim Daly's blog, "Six Surprising Ways Marijuana Is Hurting Your Family" - http://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/six-surprising-ways-marijuana-hurting-family/

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Jonahbay 4 months ago

Happy to read the comments on here showing that the general thinking population know that this is a no-brainer. Sure some older people may not agree and Duane Sands is also showing his age and lack of thinking outside the box. Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is a step in the right direction that could get the economy out of the depression it is in right now. Legal marijuana is a boom to every economy that has implemented it. Can Public Domain please survey the Bahamian people on this? When the police burn fields of marijuana in Andros, it's like money going up in smoke. We need things to happen soon and real change that will bring in money to our economy. St Vincent has been stockpiling marijuana for years saying that they will be the first country to legally export marijuana to the US. The Bahamas is overpriced and doesn't give value for money. Also you can get arrested for having a joint. I guess I'll go to Jamaica or St Vincent...

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PastorTroy 4 months ago

This is an embarrassing 'professional dance-around-the-issue' from someone who suppose to be a medical professional. If this is 'The people's time' since 'truth and transparency' is the essence is DOCTOR Minnis administration, why all this reefer madness BS answers DOCTOR sands? Although it's only been a few months since the election, I wanted to give them a chance, however this is starting to look like a 'Bait N Switch' Administration. It now seems like Politricks, conflict of interest, cronyism and spitting in the face of 'Educated Voters' have already taking hold of the Minnis administration. In conclusion, how many people have to die? We import poison and cancerous food and items from around the world, however, we must not follow world norms as it relates to the SENSIBLE APPROACH to healing our citizens naturally? This is exasperating, we voted for VISIONARIES! This is the problem why we are loosing our young people to more attractive countries, they go to college and don't come back. I wander how much alcohol dealers and pill dealers are paying him. It gonna hurt but seems like it's time to start boycotting alcohol businesses in The Bahamas. DNA, get rid of Bran, add cannabis legalization/decriminalization to your platform and you may win next election, PLP... nevermind, even cannabis won't save yall next election.

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DWW 3 months, 3 weeks ago

ARWALLACE your link article is unsubstantiated unresearched bs fear mongering. Get real facts not fluff. An increase in explosions??? Seriously?

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